Bob Dylan – Shot of Love

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  • Dylan’s Shot of Love debuts here with stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound here is bigger, tubier, more dynamic, more lively, more present and just plain more involving than any other copy you’ve heard
  • “Shot of Love finds Dylan still in born-again mode, but he’s starting to come alive again — which isn’t as much a value judgment as it is an observation that he no longer seems beholden to repeating dogma, loosening up and crafting songs again. And it’s not just that his writing is looser, the music is, too, as he lets himself — and his backing band — rock a little harder, a little more convincingly… has flashes of brilliance, such as “Every Grain of Sand,” which point the way to the rebirth of Infidels.”

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Letter of the Week – Trilogy

Trilogy

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,   

Once again, you folks have proved that your albums are worth EVERY PENNY that you charge for them.

For years, I’ve had a couple of domestic pressings, and a “200 gram Anadisq” MOFI, of ELP’s Trilogy. Always thought the sound was pretty solid.

But I JUST finished spinning the British A+++ pressing I scored from you folks this past week, and OH MY. It absolutely CRUSHES all prior versions. It leaves the MOFI in the DUST. I mean, it’s not even close. Not subtle. Not “Well, if I listen closely, I think I MIGHT hear a difference….” NO. It’s utterly ridiculous. I’m hearing things I’ve never heard before. Orders of magnitude better.

THANK YOU, for your dedication to optimizing the quality of listening. SUCH a great album – and sound that finally is commensurate to the quality of the musicianship. 🙂

Steve

Steve,

So glad to hear it!

I was selling MoFi records when that pressing of Trilogy came out. What a murky piece of crap. The cutting system they were using was a joke, and the one they have now is not much better.

Thanks for your letter.

Best, TP

 

Loggins & Messina – Sittin’ In – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

TWO INCREDIBLE SIDES ON QUIET VINYL! This White Hot Stamper Side Two had off the charts ENERGY and DRIVE — the music on this copy simply COMES ALIVE in a way that no other pressing we played was able to match. I can honestly say I’ve never heard these songs sound better.

This record has the LIFE OF THE MUSIC in its grooves like nobody’s business. No other copy could touch it. Sure, it has a little smile curve problem — the top and bottom are a little hotter than they should be.

But a minute into this amazing side one and you will have forgotten all that audiophile stuff and just be groovin’ to the Loggins and Messina magic. It just doesn’t get any better.

Smile Curve

Practically all copies have a bit of boost in the bottom end; the kick drum really kicks, more than it should in fact. And almost all copies have too much top end right around 10k. (The ones with the worst case of boosted highs and boosted bass sound like they were mastered by Stan Ricker and pressed in Japan, much like those by a certain famous LABEL that many audiophiles to this day don’t seem to realize made some of the phoniest sounding records ever pressed.

There is also a fairly serious sibilance problem with the recording. Some copies keep it under control, while other, more crudely mastered and pressed ones suffer greatly from spitty vocals, especially noticeable on Danny’s Song.

This copy manages to keep the EQ anomolies within bounds, while giving us full-bodied pianos; rich, lively vocals, full of presence and brimming with enthuisam; harmonically-rich guitars, and a three-dimensional soundstage that reveals the space around them all. (more…)

Tom Waits – Closing Time

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

This copy has the kind of sound we look for in a top quality Tom Waits record: immediacy in the vocals (so many copies are veiled and distant); natural tonal balance (most copies are either bright or dark; ones with the right balance are the exception, not the rule); good solid weight (so the piano and other instruments sound full and powerful); spaciousness (the best copies have studio ambience like you would not believe); and last but not least, TRANSPARENCY, the effect of being able to see INTO the soundfield all the way to the back, where there is plenty going on in this remarkable studio recording.

Some of the more common problems we ran into during our shootouts were slightly veiled, slightly smeary sound, with not all the top end extension that the best copies have.

You can easily hear that smear on the attack of the piano. More often than not the piano notes are a tad blunted, a quality you notice when you finally hear a pressing with the piano notes rendered clearly. (more…)

Four Tops – Still Waters Run Deep

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  • The band’s 1970 release finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • This copy is hard to fault – big, open, clear, with space and three-dimensionality that modern pressings can only dream of
  • It’s not easy to find Motown records with natural tonal balance and freedom from distortion, but here’s one that has both those qualities, and more
  • These guys helped establish the quintessential Motown sound that brought “Still Water (Love)” and “It’s All In The Game” instant success
  • “Everything from the vocals to the music to the brilliant production and songwriting came together here to form a near-masterpiece of soul-stirring entertainment.”

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Donald Fagen – Morph The Cat – A Heavy Vinyl Disaster

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame Pressing and another Heavy Vinyl LP debunked.

Hopelessly murky, muddy, opaque, ambience-free sound, and so artificial I honestly cannot make any sense of it. Pure sludge.

This is someone’s idea of analog? It sure ain’t mine.

Music for robots?  And Kamikiriad from 1993 was musically every bit as bad.

Why waste vinyl on crap like this?

Nina Simone – Silk And Soul

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  • Outstanding sound for this RCA pressing with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER
  • Both sides here are superb – clean, clear and full-bodied with wonderfully present vocals and lots of space around all of the players
  • “After moving from the blues to soul for her second RCA album, Nina Simone’s extroverted, confident delivery proved a natural match with the ranks of soul shouters working the crowds during the late ’60s…”

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Letter of the Week – Armed Forces: “…an occult experience, as the sound emanating was totally inexplicable.”

Armed Forces

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,   

My nearly white hot stamper of “Armed Forces” has literally and honestly left me in tears. I didn’t know my system could sound so… elevated? Perfect? Whole?

Listening to “Two Little Hitlers” was an occult experience, as the sound emanating was totally inexplicable.

Understand, I own over 10 versions of this album. I have collected original UK pressings and I have one that I was pretty sure you couldn’t match. I’m a damned expert of “Armed Forces”. Pathetic, but true.

Language fails.

I was going to return this slab. I had made up my mind before I heard it that it’s going back. The old me, before I went though your transformative experience of Crowley-esq audio magik, said smugly that:
“This was just an experiment. I’m not going to spend that kind of money on a LP, especially when I own so many good versions.”

No. You’re not getting my copy of “Armed Forces” back. F*ck off.

And I guess you’ll be hearing a lot more from me and my credit card.

I hate you

Love
Adam Gates

 

Gino Vannelli – Brother to Brother – A Desert Island Disc

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

I love this album! It’s very pop, beautifully arranged, the kind of popular music they just don’t make anymore. Four stars in my book! Gino doesn’t get a lot of respect, but he has plenty of talent and his music still holds up today.

Joe Jackson – Night and Day – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This White Hot Stamper of Night And Day BLEW OUR MINDS by taking this great album to a whole new level! The sound is ABSOLUTELY STUNNING, with superb clarity and transparency, shocking You-Are-There immediacy, and amazing weight and punchiness to the bottom end. The overall sound is airy, open, spacious, lively, rich, and full-bodied with unusually high resolution — on BOTH sides. Fans of Joe Jackson should be sure not to hesitate on this one; it’s one of the best sounding copies of Night And Day OF ALL TIME — A+++ for side two, A++ for side one, and quiet vinyl throughout! 

Rich solid piano tone, lively drums, tight powerful bass and tons of presence make this one come ALIVE and sound just the way it should. You’ll want to turn it up to get the full effect, because the music really swings on a copy that sounds as good as this one. It not only swings, it ROCKS.

From that opening big drum on ‘Another World’, you know you’re in for some wonderful sound: BIG, spacious, transparent, dynamic — you name it, this record has it all. Lesser original copies can be grainy, irritating, flat and lifeless. Nothing new there, right?

Most reissues are clearly made from sub-generation tapes. They sound smeared and dead and are guaranteed to bore you to tears. With the right originals the sound is MAGIC.

Night and Day is Joe Jackson’s masterpiece. The music is simply WONDERFUL from start to finish. This is precisely the kind of adult music that belongs in any serious record collection. (more…)